Portland is blessed with a strong environmental ethos and thriving re-use culture. But this often fails to extend to our construction sector, which can contribute more than 25% of the materials that end up in our region’s landfills. Nationwide, the EPA estimates that between 65-85% of the Construction & Demolition waste stream is landfilled. With the prevalence of local infill development in Portland these days, green building increasingly means starting with green demolition.
To that end, in June, Orange Splot LLC will be participating in the City of Portland’s Deconstruction Incentive Pilot Program for one of our current projects, “Mason St. Townhomes.” This new 14-unit residential community will be located near the corner of NE Mason and Cully Boulevard, and will consist of 13 new townhomes ranging from about 1,200-1,550 square feet, and one existing house. We will preserve one single-dwelling home in good shape, to be incorporated into the new community, but the other home, in poor condition, will be removed. (You can read more about Mason St. Townhomes here on our website).
One of our deconstruction grant goals is to see how much material we can make available for re-use here in Cully Neighborhood. So, we are inviting neighbors and others curious about deconstruction, or in need of some materials (think: outdoor firewood, brick, cabinetry), to come and take a little piece of this old house home with you! We think it’s silly to pay haulers to take materials away before neighbors have had a chance to come by and see what’s available – & we want to see what the local market for deconstructed home materials might be.
Save the Date
Orange Splot’s upcoming deconstruction will take place the week of June 20th, with materials available for pickup from site, 5836 NE Mason St., on June 24th (Friday) and June 25th (Saturday). It is impossible to know exactly which materials will be re-usable before deconstruction begins, but so far the developer estimates that brick, kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, siding, metal pipes, and hardwood flooring materials will definitely be salvageable…. And you may find some other materials of interest to you and your needs. Lovett Deconstruction, a company that has been salvaging construction waste for recycling, re-purposing and reuse for over a decade, will perform the work.
Those interested in picking up wood in particular should prepare to bring your hammer. Our staff will try to take care of as much de-nailing as possible, but there may be a bit left to do (after the compulsory waiver-signing of course). People are also encouraged to stop by anytime during working hours from the 20th to the 25th to chat about deconstruction or Mason St. Townhomes with Lovett Deconstruction and/or Orange Splot LLC staff. We’d love to see you!
Why Choose Deconstruction?
Rather than opting for “traditional” mechanical demolition (one-day tear-down with a wrecking ball), Orange Splot LLC was awarded funds from the City of Portland to offset higher costs incurred by choosing deconstruction (typically about a week-long process, where buildings are taken down and materials separated by hand). Deconstruction helps ensure that as much non-hazardous material as possible can be salvaged and re-used, substantially reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. Deconstruction can also bring many other environmental, economic, and neighborhood benefits, such as: ensuring that hazardous materials are found and disposed of properly; improving air and water quality through decreased release of toxins; conserving more natural resources through reuse; increasing the supply of affordable materials options for residents and businesses; and creating more local family-wage jobs than “traditional” demolition.
However, this grant also serves another important purpose. Too often, neighbors only find out about homes coming down just before it happens, and haven’t been included in consistent dialogue with a developer about their plans. We want to engage the neighborhood as much as possible around our deconstruction. To us, that means not only choosing the benefits of deconstruction over typical demolition, but also making materials easily accessible, attending neighborhood meetings, and sustaining a deep and open dialogue around our project’s development goals. These goals have already received support and encouragement from CAN’s board, namely the provision of both market-affordable and permanently-affordable homes, and the construction of less resource-intensive, more community- and family-oriented housing choices close to transit.
Deconstruction Policy 411
A few other cities have recently adopted deconstruction requirements for older homes: Vancouver, BC’s Green Demolition Bylaw requires a minimum of 75% of the demolition waste from homes built before 1940 to be reused or recycled. In 2014, Cook County, IL, passed a Demolition Debris Diversion Ordinance to help further the county’s zero waste goals, which requires that 70% of debris for all demolition projects be recycled, and that residential properties also divert 5% of debris for re-use. Boulder, CO’s BuildSmart code outlaws traditional demolition outright, requiring a Deconstruction Plan, a Recycling Plan, multiple inspections, and final verification and reporting for all buildings being fully or partially removed. Benchmarks for municipality’s deconstruction requirements are determined by a number of considerations, chiefly among them (1) typical building materials and techniques that were utilized at the time of construction, and (2) the local deconstruction industry’s capacity to absorb new business and successfully handle all projects without huge delays.
This October, Portland will follow suit. On February 17, 2016, Portland City Council unanimously approved a resolution directing the Bureau of Planning & Sustainability to develop code language that will require projects seeking a demolition permit for a one- or two-family structure (house or duplex) to fully deconstruct if that structure (1) was built in 1916 or earlier, or (2) is designated a historic resource. These requirements will likely also ramp up as the workforce trained to deconstruct here in the Portland metro area grows.